As our city continues to see rapid population growth, various factors influence our ability to access all areas of town. From transit to parking, our region faces many challenges. As Capital Metro updates its Service Plan to better meet the needs of the community and ATD addresses parking capacity through rate increases, both agencies recognize the interrelatedness of these issues and the value in discussing them together. With this in mind, Conversation Corps provided the opportunity all throughout February for community members to share their thoughts on both transit services and parking as they relate to people's ability to get to the areas of town that they want to go.
During February’s conversations participants were asked: What makes it difficult or easy to access the areas of town you want to go? What would encourage you to use transit service more often? What can be done to improve the downtown parking experience?
The feedback on the topic varied from location to location. There was support and understanding of parking rate increases and Wednesday night changes, but also hesitation concerning lower income residents and other implications. We also heard a balance of both frustration and understanding as our city tries to keep up with population growth, accompanied by a desire for innovative solutions that can be implemented sooner rather than later.
A multitude of varying factors were addressed that lead to challenges of getting around town. This wide range of perspectives is summarized in the form of major themes below:
- Expansion of options to get around town
- Education of Capital Metro services and alternatives to personal vehicle
- Bus efficiency and reliability
- Integration of transportation options - facilitation of payment and access between transit modes
- Safety concerns for all involved - mass and personal transit users, cyclists, and pedestrians
- Division on parking rate increases
- Transparency of the allocation of parking funds
- Technological solutions for parking and transit issues
- Expansion and designation of parking lots/spaces downtown
The feedback provided shows that there is significant desire for expanded and integrated transportation and parking services which will alleviate congestion as well as improve the existing transportation model.
How feedback is being used
The full feedback report is currently being reviewed by the following people:
- Austin Transportation Department
- Marissa Monroy, Acting Public Information and Marketing Manager
- Samantha Krouse, Public Information Intern for the City of Austin Transportation Department
- Capital Metro
- Lawrence Deeter, Planning Project Manager, Capital Metro
- China Langer, Project Manager, TDM
- Kristina Svensk, Deputy Project Manager, TDM
Update: June 2016
The feedback from the February conversations has been reviewed by the Austin City Council and has served as input for several City policies regarding parking and transit. The 2015-2016 budget authorized the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) to raise rates for on-street, City-owned parking spaces in downtown areas to encourage turnover and give more people the opportunity to park in the area. To mitigate the effects of the meter increase, the city is going to lower meter rates on evenings and weekends. You can read more about these changes and the stakeholders the City consulted during the decision-making process in this memo and this memo.
Final Update - CapMetro - July 2016
The feedback received from these conversations was used to inform our Connections 2025 bus service study. A draft plan will be made available to the public in late August.